Positive planning: a new focus on driving sustainable development

Source: www.communities.gov.uk
Published: 15 June 2011

A major change to planning policy that will get development back on track and ensure protection for the environment has been published today by Planning Minister Greg Clark.

The new 'presumption in favour of sustainable development' that will get development underway whilst keeping vital environmental protections is to become the cornerstone of a more streamlined planning system that will cut reams of unwieldy planning policy down to a tightly focused National Planning Policy Framework.

The current planning regime is one of the biggest barriers to providing the homes people want and the businesses local economies need. Developers are also hindered by a planning system that can be slow, costly and gives them no certainty. The presumption will be a key tool in helping to turn this situation round.

The presumption champions the right sort of development at the right level by placing a greater emphasis on councils having a Local Plan in place. Through the plan, local communities will have a say in the sort of development they want and need in their areas. These plans will set out the opportunities for local development and form the basis for planning decisions. The presumption will help with the country's economic recovery by ensuring proposals in line with Local Plans get approval without delay. It will mean:

Greg Clark said:

"Britain urgently needs new homes, new green energy and transport links, and space for businesses to grow. By putting this presumption at the heart of our new framework we will give the planning system a wake up call so the right sort of development, that everyone agrees is needed, gets approval without delay.

"This change to planning policy will speed up development, while placing a strong emphasis on the protection of the environment and local communities' interests. By insisting on sustainable growth we can help make sure that what we build today leaves a positive legacy for future generations."

This step change will help bring the homes and businesses required to meet the growing needs of many areas. Local Plans give a stronger voice to local people who will have a greater say in the housing, services and business developments in their neighbourhood. Everyone with an interest in the plan will be consulted to ensure it addresses environmental considerations, and businesses will benefit from knowing the right type of land is available and infrastructure needs have been identified.

Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation said:

"The proposed presumption in favour of sustainable development sends a powerful message that allowing development to take place should be the default position where proposed development is in line with a local plan. It also incentivises local authorities to produce and keep up to date their local plans - a welcome discipline. But the presumption is not simply a green light for development. It will still have to be exercised within the protections afforded by national planning policy and community-led local plans."

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation said:

"The planning system must deliver more homes to address the Country's chronic shortage, in a way that enriches existing communities. Doing so will provide huge social and economic benefits for all. The proposed presumption in favour of sustainable development is a promising start for what is a vital part of ensuring positive planning for housing requirements."

The Government is taking substantial steps to help local communities protect greenfield sites as they plan for sustainable growth. We are abolishing regional strategies and their top down direction; councils have been given stronger powers to prevent unwanted garden grabbing; Green Belt, sites of special scientific interest and other environmental protections will be maintained; and we will create a new designation to protect green areas of particular importance to local communities.

The presumption in favour of sustainable development has a strong role to play in helping with the country's economic recovery by ensuring proposals in line with plans get approval without delay. Councils will also receive a financial boost from new development from the New Homes Bonus - a payment for each new home built, and the Community Infrastructure Levy - a developers' contribution towards local infrastructure.

Publishing information on the intended approach to the presumption ahead of the consultation on the National Planning Policy Framework gives councils, communities and businesses a clear idea of how it will work, and reinforces the message about the importance of getting up-to-date plans in place.